BENDIGO-BUILT Bushmasters could fire missiles at enemy targets under a plan pitched to the Australian Defence Force.
The so-called "StrikeMasters" would likely generate new high skilled Bendigo jobs in a win for Thales Australia's 350-strong Finn Street workforce, the team behind the project says.
However, Defence has not signed any contracts.
Both Thales and its partner Kongsberg Defence Australia say StrikeMasters are still in the early stage of development.
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They have completed two prototypes so far.
The hybrid Bushmasters could suit an army pivoting its focus in an Indo-Pacific region where balances of power are rapidly changing.
Two years ago, Defence issued a structural paper stating Bushmasters would be vital if the nation needs to respond to a domestic crisis, or in the wider region on humanitarian missions or what it referred to as "stability operations".
StrikeMasters would allow the army to deploy cruise missiles to remote locations, Thales and Kongsberg have told Defence.
The new trucks would meet the weight and size restrictions Defence needs to deploy its Bushmasters and could be quickly developed using proven technology, they said in a joint statement to the Bendigo Advertiser.
"The range of the missile means that a significant area can be covered to deny an adversary access to key maritime approaches to Australia and our areas of interest," they said.
Kongsberg's fifth generation Naval Strike Missile has a range exceeding 250km.
It is considering building the launchers in Adelaide and shipping them to Bendigo, where specialists from both companies would fit them to a modified Bushmaster.
The manufacturers could eventually export StrikeMasters to other countries that want Kongsberg's Naval Strike Missiles.
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Thales has exported Bushmaster amoured personnel carriers to a number of nations in recent decades.
Australia's defence force has deployed them on multiple peacekeeping missions as well as to war zones including Afghanistan and Iraq.
It has recently been working with Thales on the rollout of Bendigo-built Hawkais, which are the only vehicles armoured to protect soldiers from blasts and still be light enough to be lifted by Chinook helicopters.
Kongsberg has had Australian offices since 2004 but has been expanding its footprint in recent years as it explores its missile options with Defence.
The company has been perfecting several cruise missile systems since the late 1990s for the Norwegian army, which ordered the technology to defend its lengthy coastline from potential foreign aggressors.
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